The Lovely Bones
by Alice Sebold
The Lovely Bones Chapter 1 Summary
How It All Goes Down
- Meet our narrator, Susie "like the fish" Salmon (1.1). She's been dead since December 6, 1973. She was fourteen years old when she was murdered by her neighbor, Mr. Harvey.
- Here's what happened:
- It's snowing and Susie takes a shortcut, through the cornfield, to get home after school. She gets a little scared when she comes upon Mr. Harvey there in the dark.
- He makes small talk with her, and she says she has to go home.
- But then Mr. Harvey says he wants to show her this really cool "hiding place" (1.24) he built underground. It has a wooden hatch, covered with dirt. The hatch keeps it from caving in.
- Susie is a really curious girl, very interested in science and engineering.
- She feels the excitement of a young child making a new discovery. She's never been in any real danger, and she doesn't know enough to be afraid.
- So, she goes into the underground room with Mr. Harvey, marveling that he has dug out all that dirt. He's even dug shelves. A little battery operated lamp sheds light on the amazing structure.
- She thinks Harvey's weird, but like her dad said, he's "just a character" (1.42).
- Susie wants to know everything about the dirt room – how he built it, how he learned to build it.
- But Susie's "in transit" (1.44) between Earth and her heaven when Harvey takes it apart after her murder. She doesn't see him collapse the hole and put her body in a bag.
- She's in heaven now, and she can watch Earth.
- The hole is all closed up three days later, when the neighbor's dog finds her elbow with a little piece of cornhusk on it,.
- But back to the story of her murder:
- Next Harvey pressures Susie stay and have a coke, and starts asking her personal questions, like: Does she have a boyfriend? Is she a virgin?
- Now Susie is scared and tries to leave but Mr. Harvey tells her she isn't going anywhere.
- She fights as best she can, not having any knowledge of self defense, but loses.
- When he's kissing her, she thinks of her first and only other kiss, with Ray, a boy she has a crush on.
- She begs him not to, but Harvey brutally rapes her, stuffing the jingly pompom of her hat into her mouth when she screams.
- After, he shows her a knife and asks her if she loves him. She says yes, but he still kills her.
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